Prosecutors drop charges for man already in prison

Published 11:45 am Thursday, May 26, 2011

Freeborn County prosecutors dropped charges last week against the 40-year-old Plymouth, Iowa, man who allegedly robbed the Blake Avenue Subway in Albert Lea in November 2009.

Freeborn County Attorney Craig Nelson said the man, Anthony Paul Scharper, is serving a prison sentence in Iowa after being convicted of a gas station armed robbery in Mason City, Iowa. He was sentenced in January 2010 to 10 years in prison. At that time, a second charge, for an armed robbery at a Subway in Clear Lake, Iowa, was dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

Nelson said the dismissal of Scharper’s first-degree aggravated robbery charge in Minnesota was a matter of “practicality and common sense,” instead of having the file open for several years waiting for Scharper to get out of prison.

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Authorities also would not let Scharper travel to Albert Lea from prison to face the Minnesota charge, Nelson said.

According to court records, Scharper allegedly robbed the Albert Lea Subway on Nov. 27, 2009. Both of the Iowa robberies took place two days later.

According to the criminal complaint filed in Freeborn County District Court, Scharper reportedly took about $260 from the local restaurant after showing an employee a gun and telling her “he would shoot her if she did not comply.”

An employee, who was visibly shaken and crying when seen by authorities, told officers she was standing behind the counter in the restaurant cleaning when a man came into the store, the court document states. She asked the man what kind of sandwich he would like, and he told her he wanted the restaurant’s money.

The man told the employee to act normal, and she got the money from the cash drawer, according to the complaint. He then reportedly asked the employee to go to the back of the restaurant and wait five minutes for him to leave.

When he did this, he lifted his shirt, showing a handgun in his waistband, the complaint continues.

When the employee went to the back of the store, she called 911 on her cell phone.

Video from Subway gave police a look at the man while the robbery was happening. He was wearing jeans, tennis shoes, a pull-over shirt, sunglasses and gloves. He had short hair, a goatee and a mustache.

On Nov. 30, 2009, local police were advised that the Mason City Police Department had arrested a man who matched the description.

A detective with the Albert Lea Police Department went to Mason City and was shown a photograph of Scharper. The detective “immediately identified Mr. Scharper as the man he had observed on the video from the Subway Restaurant in Albert Lea,” the complaint states.

A pair of clip-on sunglasses were found in Scharper’s dark blue, extended cab Dodge Dakota pickup when he was arrested, along with a pair of Craftsman gloves and a semi-automatic BB gun, which looks like a semi-automatic pistol, the document continues.